Solar, environmental, consumer groups and other organizations applauded the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission's decision to reject NextEra Energy’s proposed takeover of Hawaiian Electric. The groups said that NextEra’s opposition to rooftop solar and continued investment in dirty energy were among the reasons why they opposed the merger in the first place.
Hawaii is quickly transitioning from a diesel-generated electric grid to a clean one powered by wind and solar. Shipping diesel to the Hawaiian Islands has become much less attractive as the price of solar and renewable energy has come down.
"NextEra made this a no brainer," said Isaac Moriwake, Staff Attorney with Earthjustice. "Outright rejection of the takeover was the only realistic option. NextEra refused to provide its plans for Hawaii, other than to give us a 'bigger HECO.' Based on its opposition to clean energy in Florida and failure to chart a different path in this state, NextEra is not what Hawaii wants or needs."
Critics, among them Hawaiian Gov. David Ige, Earthjustice Hawaii Solar Energy Association, Hawaii PV Coalition, Sierra Club of Hawaii, and the Alliance for Solar Choice said NextEra was unwilling to transition to a clean energy utility of the future. Meanwhile, Hawaii has a goal of sourcing all of its electricity from renewable energy by 2045.
"Instead of envisioning a 21st century grid that enables customer options like rooftop solar, NextEra wanted to double-down on its 'build more, pay more' monopoly business," said Hajime Alabanza, executive assistant with Hawaii Solar Energy Association. "The Commission understood this isn't the right direction for Hawaii's customers."
The scant plans NextEra outlined didn’t win it friends in the state. The Alliance for Solar Choice observed that almost all, including government officials, nonprofits and industry groups as well as the public, expressed opposition NextEra's proposal. The Alliance for Solar Choice said that only about a third Hawaii’s public supported such a takeover.
"Utility executives need to understand that innovative technologies like rooftop solar, just like cellphones before it, are the wave of the future," said Robert Harris, spokesperson for The Alliance for Solar Choice. "Simply selling out for a golden parachute is not a viable option for HECO executives, nor is fighting against customers trying to do the right thing for their households and the planet. Utilities need to move towards a 21st century grid that empowers customers to save money and produce cleaner power."Tweet